Birdhouse In Your Soul is a song by They Might Be Giants. One of my husband’s favorite bands. We saw TMBG in St. Louis at a street concert just before Lilli was born in 2003. I was very pregnant and it was very hot, but it was a very cool experience. I stood until the very end on my swollen, achy ankles. We also saw the documentary, Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns), in Columbia, MO that summer. Just after Lilli was born, we played TMBG’s album, No!, for her almost every day. And when Lilli was older she saw TMBG at Jiggle Jam in KC twice. We like TMBG. 🙂
According to Wikipedia, the song “…tells the listener to make a birdhouse (being a safe place for something small and vulnerable) for the light it creates in their mind and soul.” A year ago, I wrote about my day and a little birdhouse building on Facebook. I wanted to share it here on my blog.
From June 25, 2015:
I went to the pool yesterday with my daughter. A gorgeous day for our non-heated pool (any day over 90°). It was wonderful and warm. I had so wanted a day at the pool to relax and think.
I plopped down in the water, investigating a forgotten toy. Lilli and I started throwing the little plastic fish back and forth. She squirted me with her new gun. And we just enjoyed each other. She’s my best female friend. I trust her. She’s funny. We can say anything.
According to the lyrics of Birdhouse, there’s a little blue canary that’s protected by the lighthouse. She’s my canary (she sings all the time) and I’m the light. I think. (Or I’m HER little feathered friend sometimes and she saves me.) Depends on the day. 🙂
As we were throwing the fish around, I saw a boy. All alone. I wanted to ask him if he wanted to play with us (be a good and vigilant neighbor and all), but he didn’t seem interested and he was older than Lil. But it made me think of her friend. So we called Friend to see if he wanted to enjoy our pool. A privilege we have relished. Inviting friends over for pool time. If you have nice things and don’t share them, what good is it?
So then, Friend came over, we had a snack and then back to the pool. We were putting our stuff down on two lounges and had strung out our possessions very sloppily in our eagerness to get back in the cool water.
In walks a woman with a horde of children, a stroller, arms full of stuff. Lilli and Friend were already in the pool and I was laying the last of our towels/bags/snacks down. I looked over at the only lounge left on our side. It was covered with some sort of spilled gummy snack which rendered the lounge useless. The snacky bits were beginning to melt in the sun.
She was headed for our side. These were the only lounges in the shade and she had a baby. She was about to set her stuff down on the undesirable place. I could tell she was hesitant and didn’t want to, but the alternative was to stand there with an armful of crap.
“Oh, wait! Here ya go. Let me move our stuff to just one, we’re in the pool, we don’t need it.” And I started moving our stuff to just one chair.
“Are you sure?” she said. “Thank you so much!”
I would have even given her both chairs (and the swimsuit off my back, ha!), but if you set your stuff on the ground around here, there will be ants carrying off your bag in about 30 minutes.
“No problem! We only need the one.” And off I went back to the pool.
She jumbled and juggled her kids/stuff around and got settled. I relaxed at the edge of the pool in a chair that sits in the water. Top half sun, bottom half refreshingly cool. I was enjoying myself watching Lil and Friend play-water guns and dangling over the edge of the pool. They flipped and rolled and splashed.
Before I knew it, the mom I had addressed earlier was moving around behind me. She seemed agitated, but I thought it was concern for her kids who seemed to be having trouble settling into a nice play routine. Then she sat down right beside me.
“I don’t know you, but I have to say something to an adult.”
I knew whatever was about to come out of her mouth was going to trouble me. But my brain went into soap-opera mode and couldn’t resist the tales of juicy gossip that were about to spill from her lips.
“What’s up?” I said without revealing my intense curiosity.
“These aren’t all my kids. I’m watching my nieces. My sister-in-law passed away last night from cancer and I’ve been alone all day with them.”
My heart dove to the bottom of the pool. Like that silly pucker-faced fish we were tossing around earlier.
“Oh no! I’m so sorry.”
And we talked for the rest of her time at the pool. She needed a friend to talk to and I was the only person there alone. I wouldn’t have been free had I not thought of Lilli’s friend. This woman needed me and I was available. I can’t tell you how thankful I was that God made me an instrument of his peace.
The convoluted process was not lost on me. I had to go to the pool, see the boy, think of Friend, invite Friend, wait for Friend out front, have a snack at just the right time, walk back to our lounge and be there just as Lady was arriving, sit in the water alone and wait. Just sit in the beautiful, cool, refreshing water and relax. Sun on my shoulders, at peace. And Lady goes to the church where we donate to the building fund. God is so amazing.
We may not always be the one to reach out, but as long as we are available, God can do the rest. Stay loose, take what comes and be open. Always have a smile. And God can use you. Even in the pool.
I didn’t know it at the time, but when Lady told me about her SIL dying of cancer? I had cancer inside my body. I had a large benign nodule on my thyroid that I was having out in just a few short weeks, but what I didn’t know…there were 3 small cancer nodules on the right lobe as well. Life is weird. complicated. surprising. lovely. I had my thyroid out and I’m cancer-free for now. So-
So. Be a lighthouse. Or be the bird looking for the light. You never have to fly alone.
Build a little birdhouse in your soul. Be a friend. Protect the small, vulnerable space inside of others and yourself by connecting the two and caring for both.